History of the Most Popular Gambling Games of Today

Let’s start from the Queen of the Casino - roulette, which means “little wheel” in French, was invented in France. Before the invention of the special wheel characteristic of roulette, similar rules and payments were used in other games, and numbers were taken from the bag or determined using playing cards. In Italy, these games were called Biribi (described by Casanova in his memoirs). In England they were called roulette, role-poly and ace of hearts.

Roulette History - Getting Started

The French mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal (inventor of the syringe, hydraulic press and calculator) was perhaps the first to introduce the game of roulette in the mid-17th century. His correspondence with Pierre de Fermat (the founder of mathematical analysis) led to the creation of probability theory. The beginning of their joint work was the question about craps game posed by Chevalier de Mere. Pascal spent a significant part of his life trying to invent a perpetual motion machine. In 1655, the result of one of the unsuccessful attempts was a wheel that rotated almost without friction.

Roulette History - 19-21 Century

In the 90s of the 18th century, a similar wheel, rules and name appeared in Parisian casinos. In the 19th century, roulette became a popular casino game throughout Europe thanks to the French Francois and Louis Blanc. In 1843, in the resort town of Bad Homburg, they opened the Kursaal casino, which used a new roulette wheel with one zero. In 1863, François Blanc received permission to conduct a gambling business in Monaco, after which Monte Carlo was the most popular gambling resort until the outbreak of World War I. Thanks to a single-zero wheel, roulette became incredibly popular (and profitable, even with a minimal casino advantage), and there were rumors that the brothers made a deal with the devil to find out the "secrets of the wheel." According to legend, the sum of the numbers on the roulette wheel is 666.

Blackjack history

The current popularity of blackjack is due to an attractive opportunity to gain an edge over the casino. Thanks to Dr. Edward Thorpe, author of the bestselling Beat the Dealer, the professional level and number of blackjack players has increased dramatically. Blackjack has been a favorite game of mathematicians and analysts for almost 50 years. More has been written about blackjack than about any other casino game. Before the advent of online poker, blackjack was the most popular game for analysis and card counting, not poker.

Despite the mass of analytic materials about blackjack, most writers paid little attention to the history of the game. In 2006, Arnold Snyder, the eminent blackjack specialist, in his Big Book on Blackjack (Cardoza Publishing) explored the origin and prototypes of blackjack. David Parlett, a British writer and game inventor, also widely covered blackjack history in books and on the Internet.

Blackjack has the following characteristics: a deck of cards, the player plays against the dealer, the winner is determined by the numerical value of the cards.

Blackjack History - Getting Started

The earliest version of the Blackjack game with similar elements was the Spanish game Veintiuna (twenty-one). Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote", in 1613 wrote the story "Rinconete and Cortadillo", which was included in the collection "instructive short stories". The Veintiuna game (twenty-one) was mentioned in records dating back to 1440 (although there were several games with that name that had nothing to do with the Blackjack origin).

In the 17th century in England there was a variation of this game called Bone Ace. In Cervantes' tale, as in the Bone Ace game described by Charles Cotton in The Skillful Player (1674), the ace could be 1 or 11 points. The French prototype of Blackjack was called Quinze (15), and was first mentioned in the 16th century. This game remained popular in French casinos until the 19th century. The Italian card game Settee Mezzo (7 and a half) was popular in the early 17th century. Sette Mezzo used a deck of 40 cards (without eights, nines and tens). The rest of the cards kept their face value, and curly cards were considered as a shelf.

In another French game, Trente-et-Quarante (30 and 40) was played at the Spa Casino in Belgium in 1780. Unlike most of the earlier games, Trente-et-Quarante was a game against the establishment, so, it was the casino that accepted bets and paid winnings of players. In this game possibility to make "Insurance" appeared first.

The rules of modern Blackjack are based on the French game Vingt-Un (or Vingt-et-Un - 21), which appeared in the 18th century. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this game was loved and popularized by such historical figures as the Countess Dubarry and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Blackjack History - 19-21 Century

In the 19th century, casinos of America adopted two rules that dramatically increased the popularity of the game. They allowed players to see one of the dealer’s cards and ordered the dealer to take the card with 16 or less points and stop at 17 and above. At the beginning of the 20th century, the game became known as Blackjack thanks to an action (which was held very briefly and was quickly stopped), according to which the player received a bonus if he scored 21 points with an ace of spades and a Jack.

After a well-known study by Dr. Thorpe, and the subsequent increase in the number of players and various analytical materials about the game, Blackjack has become the casino's most popular table game in the casino. Although casinos generally benefited from players developing different strategies and counting cards, they still tried to prevent this. Despite numerous court decisions that card counting is not fraud, in most jurisdictions casinos have the right to refuse a player to visit the casino without giving a reason. Some casinos have modified blackjack rules (they may differ even at different tables). For example, you can use a different number of decks of cards, different methods of shuffling decks, the rules of an additional card with soft-17, restrictions on the separation of hands and doubling bets, as well as the availability of the "give up" action.

The books of Ken Aston's The Big Player (1977) and Ben Mezrich's Hit on the Casino (2002) describe how professional blackjack players won (and sometimes lost) fortunes. According to the book of Mezrich, the famous film "21" was shot.

Craps History

The word craps is an Americanized version of the word crabs, present in 19th-century French. The term "crabs" meant a combination of "double ace", i.e. the weakest combination in the Hezard Game (a dice game that largely determined the development of modern craps). Similarly, the French word "crapaud", i.e. "frog," called the pose of people playing dice on the floor or sidewalk.

Craps History - Getting Started

Dice games, however, have been known since ancient times. Archaeologists have found hexagonal knuckles with grains instead of numbers from Mesopotamia (northern Iraq) dating back as far as 3000 BC, dice from Pompeii and limestone knuckles from Egypt dated 600 BC Sometimes dice were cut out of pork or lamb bones, from which the expression “throw dice” came. Many Roman emperors loved to play dice. At the crossing of the Rubicon River, Julius Caesar uttered his famous phrase "the die is cast." Claudius ordered to make a special table on which one could play dice during a trip in a carriage. Caligula was notorious for his frequent losses. Nero played dice for money.

On the Arabian Peninsula, a dice game called "Azzahr" was popular, which later turned into a Hezard (hazard) game. The earliest forms of Hezard were recorded in the twelfth century, and are even mentioned in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, although the game may date back to the Crusades. The sophisticated gambling that has evolved over the years has become a table game that easily fits into the assortment of games from early casinos. The game got to America thanks to the French who brought it to New Orleans.

The history of craps - 19-21 century

Modern craps began to take shape when John H. Winn introduced a don't pass bet to give the casino an edge without cheating, which was a problem in American casinos in the 19th century. Despite the fact that the rules of craps have become easier compared to the Hezard, the game still had numerous bet options, including group bets when the player throwing the dice, i.e. shooter, can earn money for all other players. During World War II, the game was popularized by soldiers who used army blankets as a cloth to control the throw.

History of slot machines - 19th century

Coin-operated machines appeared in casinos and other gaming establishments in England and the USA at the same time, in the last decade of the 19th century. In both countries, slot machines have become popular in the wake of interest in "automatic" household appliances. Along with slot machines, a gramophone, film strip, cash register, vending machines, etc. were invented at the same time.

In 1890, a satirical article "From an Automated Diary" about everyday life in the near future was published in Punch magazine. The article began with the words: "7:00. Removed from the automatically assembled bed and placed on the floor. Raised and moved to a chair for automatic dressing, washing, and shaving. In the process of automatic dressing, the elevator lowers me to the dining room where I am fed" - individual automatic breakfast provider.

In the period 1900-1960. The slots had the following general characteristics: a groove for a coin, a window with three reels containing various symbols, a lever for rotating mechanical reels, a reward for certain combinations of symbols, and automatic dispensing of money in the form of coins falling out of the machine.

The first patents for coin-operated games with spinning wheels began to be issued in England. In 1887, William Oliver developed a racing game in which toy horses moved on concentric mechanical wheels. Two years later, Anthony Harris patented a spinning wall game wheel.

At the same time, a group of engineers from San Francisco, led by Charles Fey, created the first recognizable slot machines. The Liberty Bell machine was the model (including the name) for creating popular slot machines for several decades. Machines of this generation had three rotating drums, a lever, a groove for one coin and paid a reward for a set of identical symbols (card suits, horseshoes, and bells). Each drum contained 10 symbols, so the maximum number of combinations was 1,000. In the initial versions, payments were made manually, the largest of which was twenty-five-cent coins per line of three bells. Over the next decade, Fairy cars had reels that stopped in sequence (making the game more gambling) and automatic payouts.

In the first decade of the 20th century in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Herbert Mills created slot machines copied from Fey's machines, but with additional features to avoid legal problems. In Mills' slots, the number of symbols on the reels was increased to 20, as a result of which the number of possible combinations increased to 8,000. (In order to make the machines different from Fey's slot machines, Mills added images of cherries, oranges, lemons, and plums, because of which the machines received the nickname "fruit machines", still popular in the UK). Mills' machines also had enlarged "screens" so players could see their "fails" above and below the line.

In the 1960s, Bally revolutionized the slot machine industry, starting with a game called Money Honey. Money Honey debuted at the end of 1963. Taking advantage of the latest advances in electronics, Bally used Las Vegas themes to create slot machines: vibrant colors, flashing lights, loud sounds, and a fast-paced life. The Money Honey slot machine was also equipped with a coin hopper (a compartment in which more than 2,500 coins were placed) and a metal tray into which coins fell at the same time during payment (at a speed of six pieces per second). By 1968, Bally provided 94% of the slots in Nevada. These machines also allowed playing on several coins at once.

Bally's success has contributed to the growing popularity of slot machines in Las Vegas, forcing manufacturers to compete and develop new and better machine models. After the appearance of Money Honey in slot machines, electronic and subsequently computerized components began to be increasingly used.

In 1979, Bally distributor William C. Redd founded International Gaming Technology (IGT), which by the end of the decade had become a leader in innovative slot machine technology and sales. Shortly after the founding of IGT, he introduced the first video poker slots.

Meanwhile, a computer technician named Inge Telnaes developed a computer program that allowed slot machines to operate using a random number generator (RNG), rather than mechanical spinning reels. The program with "virtual reels" made it possible to offer jackpots with astronomical payments, without losing profitability. In 1984, IGT got a license to use this technology. In 1986, IGT introduced Megabucks, the largest and most popular progressive jackpot. Megabucks united slot machines throughout Nevada.

In 1992, Bally introduced the Game Maker video slot, in which players could choose between different slot games (and video poker) and denominations. Thanks to the Game Maker slot machine and the success of IGT in video poker in games, animation began to be used more and more often (buttons appeared and subsequently touch screens, which, however, never completely replaced the mechanical levers).

In the late 1990s, payments for several pay lines and bonuses appeared in the slots, activating additional screens or special rounds of the game. In Australia, Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. introduced the first multi-payline video slots (known as Pokies in Australia) WMS Gaming, which released the popular Reel 'Em In video slot, also helped drive interest in animations and bonus rounds.

In early versions of the slots, the roulette wheel was used as a bonus round, which was activated when a certain combination fell out on the reels. Bally was the first to offer this type of bonus in the Wheel of Gold slot. In 1997, IGT received a license to use the symbols of the popular American television show Wheel of Fortune for its slot machines. The Wheel of Fortune slots used a wheel from the telecast of the same name, and the beginning of the bonus round was accompanied by a recording of an audience chanting the words “wheel of luck!”. Wheel of Fortune has become the most popular slot machine of all time. It also began the era of "thematic" slot machines. In 1998, IGT introduced the first Elvis slots.

Over the past few years, slots have completely transformed. The first slots looked and worked like vending machines, but today they are distinguished by a neat and at the same time complex design, combining the qualities of personal computers and home gaming and entertainment systems. Just as chips replaced money in other casino games, credits and tickets replaced coins in slots. In the late 1980s, machines began to be equipped with digital counters of coins thrown by the players. In the next decade, in addition to coins and metal tokens, slots began to accept banknotes (in many land-based casinos, coins are not used at all now). Coins ceased to be used completely when the slot bunkers were replaced with TITO readers (ticket-in / ticket-out). Players can insert banknotes or tickets containing data on available funds. Instead of coins, the machine issues tickets. In kiosks resembling ATMs, casino players can exchange money for tickets and vice versa.

Baccarat History - Getting Started

The game of baccarat originated at the end of the 15th century. An Italian game called "Baccarà" (which means "zero") was popular in many Italian cities. Subsequently, the French borrowed it and renamed it "Baccarat". Since the players of European casinos wanted variety in card games, baccarat quickly attracted interest.

The history of baccarat - 19-21 century

The game became quite popular during the reign of Sun King Louis XIV, who introduced this game to aristocrats. In the 18th century, baccarat was also played in British casinos. The game was popular in Monte Carlo in the 19th century.

Nowadays, baccarat has become considered an exquisite game with high stakes thanks to the James Bond films. A super-spy plays baccarat in the films Doctor No (1962), Ball Lightning (1965), Casino Royale (1967), Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), and Only for Your Eyes ( 1981), License to Kill (1989) and Golden Eye (1995).

Three versions of baccarat remain popular today. The baccarat versions of Chemin de Fer and Banque are still popular in France and Monte Carlo, and Punto Banco is distributed in casinos in North America, as well as in some institutions in the UK. In these varieties of the game, the rules are almost identical with some differences when dealing cards.